Did Germany cause World War 1?
Although in the Treaty of Versailles Germany was to accept full responsibility for World War 1 this in not necessarily the case. Many factors have to be taken into account when considering the cause of World War 1. Germany may have been primarily responsible for the war but the other major powers must accept some of the blame for failing to prevent it. The conflict resulting from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinard should have been local and confined but due to a series of factors, militarism, the alliance system, nationalism, this one incident led to the greatest war Europe had ever seen. As a result of underlying hostilities the assassination led to a chain of events that ensured war on a wide scale.
The alliance system developed by Bismarck for defensive purposes was one of the major causes of the war. These alliances however took a more aggressive tone in the hands of Bismarck’s successors. Also Bismarck’s alliance system was too intricate for anybody other than himself to maintain. While he was alive the alliances preserved peace but in the hands of William the 2nd these alliance were destroyed. Bismarck’s policy was to keep France isolated however with William refusing to renew the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia. France now had an ally thus resulting in the signing of the Franco-Russian Entente in 1891. In 1904 Britain and France formed a non-military alliance called the Entente Cordial. As a result at the outbreak of war Europe was divided into two armed camps, the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente. The Triple Alliance consisted of Germany, Austria-Hungry and Italy and the Triple Entente was made up of Britain, France, and Russia. These alliances facilitated a political assassination sparking a World War.
Along with the hostile divisions in Europe came the expansion of armies and navies thus leading to an arms race. This arms race was also precipitated by the increase in war budgets after 1900. Attempts to restrict the arms race, like The Hague conference in 1899 and 1907 failed due to mutual suspicion. The great powers also elaborated plans for mass mobilisation. It was thought that a war would be decided in the opening phases and therefore who ever got into the field first and assembled the largest army in the shortest time would have the advantage over it’s rival. When World War 1 began Germany ultimately mobilised eleven million troops, France mobilised twenty percent of her population or 7,800,000 and Russia mobilised sixteen million men (White Heat 7). By 1914 the general staffs in Germany, France, Russia and Austria favoured war. Germany and Britain were involved in a naval race, which caused antagonism between the two powers due to Britain’s pride in her naval fleet and the necessity of it to maintain her Empire. She saw Germany’s continued expansion as a threat. Sir John Fisher of the British...